A Master Plan to Living a Healthy Life
As a culture, we have been wowed by so many advancements in the medical world, technology, communication, transportation, etc. So many things we, initially, look at as miraculous and then, after a relatively short passage of time, we take them for granted. We do the same with our power and it is ironic, being that humans desire control more than just about any other thing and yet, we so often give it away.
Take our own health care, for example. Supposedly, our health is what we’re supposed to value most, and yet, the proof is that most simply do not. What gives? Why do people shirk the simple things that are so important to good health? Have we been so conditioned or poisoned by the medical establishment to believe that these simple things are trivial compared to the big, bad diseases that lurk around every corner?
The following is my list of “the basics,” that we all need to implement and practice, regularly.
- Hydration: Most of us need to drink approximately half our body weight in ounces of quality water. Spring water from the source is best. Avoid plastic bottles and tap water. If you work a labor job and/or sweat a fair amount, this number should increase by about 15-20%. Although there are exceptions by age, health issues, etc, this is a good rule of thumb and many report, once adjusting to it, that they feel much better.
- Eat mostly whole foods in variety minimizing (some need to completely remove) simple carbs (sugar and white flour products). Healthy fats (avocado, EVOO, coconut, walnut oils and fresh raw nuts (where there are no allergies, of course) are important as are quality proteins. Avoid processed, fried foods, excessive consumption of coffee, alcohol and dairy products.
- Exercise/Movement: This category is broad, so let me boil it down to the following: Stretching routines, moderate movement for 30+ minutes per day and about 3 days per week, isometrics or toning weight-lifting regimens are all important. You don’t have to join clubs or fall for the empty promises of equipment or programs. It is YOU, gravity and the space you live in…and better yet, the great outdoors!
- Rest/Sleep/Quieting the Mind: Many do not get enough quality sleep and then there are those who get proper sleep, but they are bombarded, non-stop, during the day with neurological stimulation; excessive noise, fluorescent lights, electro-magnetic field disturbances like cell towers, cell phones, computers, power stations, etc. Meditation is a scary word for many. It is actually quite simple and there are many forms. Try just find a quiet spot, leaving your phone and any other tech behind and sitting in silence for 10 minutes a day. Keep your attention on the here and now, right where you are. It will wander, just notice what your mind is wandering to and gently bring it back into the room. Focusing on the breath…deep, abdominal breathing…slow, relaxed. By taking this time, the brain can re-set. People who do this report greater creativity, more energy, more contentment and more benefits.
- Annual, Bi or Semi-Annual Cleansing: Many people either haven’t heard about this or have rejected it as hogwash. I can tell you, empirically, from 25 years of doing this myself and for my Patients, it is a great way of getting back on track, mentally, emotionally and physically. Billions of people around the World cleanse for a variety of reasons, some spiritual, some for health. It is a great way to deal with cravings, excess weight, “hot” symptoms and more. There are simple cleanses you can do on your own or “Professional” cleanses that are research-based from companies like Standard Process, Metagenics, Thorne and a host of other companies. A cleanse can range from a one day fast to a 30 day supplement-based program. In fairness, Ayurvedic Medicine may prescribe a series of cleanses for some Patients and it may take months.
- Positive Connection/Fulfillment of Purpose: It might be a bit beyond the basics, but as it is often overlooked and it’s one of Maslow’s Needs on his hierarchical scale, I figured it’s an important part of the list. Take a look at what’s going on around our Country right now. People are angry, afraid, worried and divided. As a result we are often reactive, lashing out at whatever “pushes our buttons.” Another negative influence is gossip, something our culture seems to run on like coffee. Finding friendships and family connections that inspire us to be our best, or at the very least, to be happy and positive, are often overlooked. Find hobbies, creative ventures and people that bring out the best in you. Far too many seek co-dependent relationships that allow them to continue doing nothing or to keep bad habits around. Some people find connection in spiritual ventures while others find it in the woods, water or mountains. Do what works for you!
- Healthy Sex Life: I can feel a number of you withdrawing (so to speak) right now. If you were shamed as a child, or as an adult, basic human urges and desires are often expressed in unhealthy ways that lead to stress. Some people are in unhealthy relationships that are either abusive or unfulfilling. The bottom line is that this is an off-shoot from #6, Positive Connection, but worth separating just because so many are uncomfortable addressing their issues. It is ok to not want sex. What is not ok is to have suppressed urges or “hang-ups” around natural acts because of a lack of proper education or problems in one’s formative years, around the subject. There are many capable Therapists who can help you with any issues around sex, gender issues, etc. I happen to share an office with an excellent one!
- Changing from a Sick-Care mindset to a TRUE health-care mindset. Allopathic medicine wants customers and their customers are sick. Think about this for a moment. Do you want a Health Practitioner who benefits from you being sick or one that builds a Practice on maintenance or wellness visits. This is based on the attitudes and education of our Patients. Think about it from the standpoint of how you take care of your car. There is routine maintenance; oil changes, tire rotations, etc, that prolong the life of the car. Why in the world would you take better care of your car than you do your own body/mind? The healthiest people I know utilize all aspects of healthcare, on top of practicing the above basic principles. It might mean a visit to the Chiropractor, one or two to the Acupuncturist, a trip to your Doctor, a Massage and a couple Counseling sessions. This is a total of 4-5 hours per month and the benefits are amazing. Of course, not everyone needs the same Practitioners or frequency of care. Some need more, some less. You find what works for you…the key is that you won’t complain, you will live a positive life where you flourish instead of suffer. Make it happen…it’s a mindset.
- Proper Breathing: This is key to getting enough oxygen into the system as well as getting rid of CO2. Breathing, slowly, deeply via a relaxed diaphragm and abdomen goes a long way towards optimal health. Many stress and tension disorders are traced back to problems with breathing mechanics, but people don’t think of autonomic processes, more often than not, unless guided to do so. Yoga and Meditation are two powerful systems where the breath is key. Where there is pain/tension in the body, there is always one or more of the following: Poor ergonomics, over-work, on-going emotional stress, improper breathing, bad diet, trauma.
These basics are keys to happiness and better health, and yet, are so often shirked or forgotten. Much of this is due to our not dealing with our issues. By establishing a quality health team and living a true health care existence, getting regular maintenance, you’ll make health a habit, and that will spill over into all aspects of your life. It’s not only time to get back to the basics, but to commit to an ongoing practice of the basics.
Paul Gerst L.Ac. is a licensed Acupuncturist and Natural Health Practitioner of over 20 years. He has designed programs for many companies, including 3M, McCain Foods, The Turkey Store and more. He is a certified Mediator and certified Meditation Trainer.